Penguins Notes: Crosby, Fleury, Maatta, coach Mike Johnston

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Now that the euphoria from Thursday’s 6-4 Penguins victory has worn down …

Pascal Dupuis saw more than two minutes on the power play Thursday. In 39 games and 690 minutes of ice time last season, Dupuis totaled 11:21 on the man advantage. New head coach Mike Johnston is looking at his talent in a new light and that’s refreshing. We all know that Dupuis won’t become a power-play maven overnight after 10 seasons in the NHL but it’s good to see the Pens are thinking out of the box.

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P1580704Fleury must still be breaking in those gold goalie pads

Marc-Andre Fleury turned the puck over behind his own net, leading to a layup goal by Corey Perry. It’s a lot easier moving the puck forehanded with a goalie stick than it is with a backhand and Fleury paid the price. The goalie did stone Nate Thompson’s penalty shot backhand. Henrik Lundqvist might be the only goalie better than the Flower on penalty shots and shootouts.

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Sidney Crosby decided against summer wrist surgery and scored two wrist-shot goals Opening Night. Penguins fans will remember Crosby netted just one goal in 13 playoff games last spring.

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After all the talk of giving Brandon Sutter more chances throughout the Penguins offense, he scores a short-handed goal (his seventh career tally) while killing a penalty.

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Evgeni Malkin and Zach Sill were the only two Penguins forwards unable to register at least one shot on goal Thursday. Malkin, who missed the entire preseason, will try to make amends Saturday. He is averaging 1.83 points per game against the Maple Leafs with 44 points in 24 games – his best numbers versus any NHL opponent. Eventually he’ll move back to center from right wing, but why mess with success for another couple games?

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The Pens made a somewhat curious move by recalling defenseman Scott Harrington after just one game. Originally, the thinking was that Harrington was best served by seeing full minutes with Wilkes-Barre instead of sitting in the press box for Pittsburgh. Coach Johnston noted how the rookie is much more defensive-oriented than Taylor Chorney, who the team sent to the Baby Penguins, but unless Harrington plays (as he should) then the move lends itself to some second guessing.

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Crosby likely wished Blake Comeau and Steve Downie were on the Penguins roster when Marc Staal abused the Penguins captain during the playoffs and nobody protected the captain. After Ryan Kesler took some liberties with Letang on Thursday, Comeau and Downie made a point to retaliate against Kesler. On Friday, Letang said he “appreciated” their efforts but made sure to say he hoped that the team would react the same way for any of his teammates.

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It’s incredible to think Olli Maatta lasted until the 22nd pick of the 2012 draft. Maatta missed all six of Pittsburgh’s preseason games, only to tally three helpers Opening Night – his first three-point effort. It’s good the 20-year-old has an experienced partner like Paul Martin to learn from and absorb.

Martin is likely a luxury the team will move before the deadline, but the depth he gives the blue line makes him a valuable commodity. It’s pretty much assumed the Pens will move his $5 million salary, so enjoy his puck-moving skills while you still can.

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Too bad the Chicago Blackhawks don’t need a Paul Martin. Brandon Saad will be a free agent after the season and would look good in a Penguins sweater, real good. According to CapGeek, Chicago is just $384,000 under the cap while Pittsburgh is $138,000 under the limit (and that was after the Blackhawks traded puck-moving blueliner Nick Leddy before the start of the season).

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GM Jim Rutherford seems like such an unassuming, down-to-earth guy. Twice in the last two home games, I saw the general manager looking at pictures of past Penguin successes (such as a framed headline page of a Stanley Cup win) in the media hallway all by himself.

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Transcribed Penguin Interviews (Courtesy, Pittsburgh Penguins)

Mike Johnston media notes:

We thought Scott had a good camp, heading into this weekend in Toronto, we’ll be bringing some players back and forth. To bring Scott up, he’s a very good defensive defenseman. He’s had a good training camp, we want to bring him up for a bit here, have him with the big team.
Chorney, I was very impressed with how he played, gives us an older experienced guy, mobile, can move the puck. Harrington gives us a defensive defenseman look.
We do a game review after every game, we summarize areas where we do well and where we have to improve. Every game we try to take two or three things and chisel away and improve them. I liked the puck movement, puck possession time. We made a few poor decisions with the puck. If you want to be a puck possession team, you have to weed out those poor decisions and start to make sure guys know what to do when they’re confronted. They don’t have to make plays through people, but it’s a process, it’s not going to happen right away.
I thought for the first game, I like the way we hung in there through some adversity in the second period. We generated 21 shots on goal in the second period, so I liked the way we put the shots on goal.
To protect anybody, I do like that. I like the response of the team. There was a hit … sometimes you have to take a stance at the right time.
Any area of the game where we get exploited is a concern. The penalty kill is still a work in progress. Through the exhibition series we’ve had some new guys killing together. We’re still trying to get our pairs down, get our defense pairs with our forwards. Once we get the groups together and get our more game tape that we can watch sequences… The first three or four weeks, unless you’ve had your same unit and same coach from the year before, it’s going to take a series of eight to 10 games before you get your special teams in synch.
We weren’t really sure because Olli (Maatta) hadn’t played in an exhibition. We were kind of playing it as we went along. Paul (Martin) is very stable, very smart. He’s not defensive, per se, but he has a defensive mindset. Olli can jump into the play, so there’s great balance in that pair. I really wanted to monitor because Olli hasn’t played a lot in the preseason and I thought he may have a setback in his first game, but he went the other way, he just kept getting better and better as the game went along.
Mike Bales (goaltending coach) and I talked today. We’re gonna look at the schedule ahead and solidify those dates when we’re looking at putting him into games. We’ve sketched it out, but we’re gonna nail it down in the next couple days while we’re on the road. So we’ll look at our schedule slot, this is a good game for Greiss and that’s what we’re going to give him. Do that ahead of time rather than reacting on the spur of the moment. I think it’s always best to do that.

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Sidney Crosby media notes:

He’s played for other teams, too (Chris Pronger), so I don’t think it’s a big deal.
I thought that was a great job. No matter who it is, I think you want to make sure you stick together. Whether it’s a new guy or someone who’s been around for a long time, I think that’s an important trait.
I think it’s an area you want to improve (sticking together since last year). We could’ve been better in that area for sure. When you’re winning 6-3 and guys want to take liberties, you have to make sure you stick together. That’s part of the game and it’s going to happen. But you want to react the right way. I think we did a good job of that.
It’s just going to take time. We worked on knowing where we need to be and make sure we support the puck.
It’s always exciting (to play in Toronto). You feel that energy. The crowd gets behind them. Obviously being in Canada, you know how passionate everyone is about the game. I think a lot of us grew up watching those Saturday night games, so it’s always fun to play in them.
I feel like, not good, it’s a little bit hard. My shape not great yet. I should play in the first game, no injury for me. We play at home. Just keep going work hard nice practice. We win, it’s good but I should play better. When you not play in a long time it’s tough. Practice is so much different. Every game is hard. I’m glad I started yesterday and we win.
We have Duper. He score goal, assists. He do everything. I not play in a long time, I need time, too, you know, sometimes I lose position (right wing) … see my video yesterday and today. Just focus my game, work hard and try to help my team win, you know.
Very big performance (by Dupuis) because I remember my injury was the same. We see how smiling, how hungry, he hadn’t played in such a long time. I’m glad for him, he’s a very important player for our team. I hope he plays the same way every game.

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Kris Letang media notes:

That’s what we need, stick up for each other, really appreciate the two guys stepping up for me. I think we have to do it all around the dressing room. That was nice.
We have a great group of guys, we’ve seen it in training camp, we had a chance to go on the road.
On Chris Pronger taking a league job, though he’s still on Flyers’ payroll.
That’s not really my business to discuss that. Obviously, if you’re an employee of a team you can’t really decide on a disciplinary decision on guys on your team, so it’s kind of a (little) conflict.

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Steve Downie media notes:

Anyone on this team, if someone gets hit like that, five guys on the ice gotta step in there and do their job.
This is a pretty tight-knit locker room. These guys are playing together for a while now.
No, not at all. I spent some time with Prongs last year. He’s a great guy, he doesn’t care what people think or say. He’s an honest man. I think it’s good for the players and good for the league.
We did a good job, we got up three, we kind of let up. Answered the bell. A little sloppy, couple things to clean up but it was the first game and we can build on it.
(Saturday in Toronto) They always seem to come out of the gate quick and we have to be ready for them.
Tocchet’s a great coach. He helped me develop my game at a young age. Happy to be back with him, should be fun working with him.
It’s not one guy on the ice. If something happens like that it’s all five guys got to get in there and make something happen. I thought we did a good job last night.

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Blake Comeau media notes:

Got to limit that skill. Those are the kind of guys you have to play hard on. We’re gonna have a tough game (in Toronto). It was a nice win, to be able to contribute in the win (against Anaheim). It was awesome (the atmosphere at Consol). You could feel the excitement in the arena. As players you can feed of that, use that to your advantage. It’s a nice thing to have.

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Penguins Audio

Mike Johnston:

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Sidney Crosby:

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Pascal Dupuis:

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Evgeni Malkin:

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Kris Letang:

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Steve Downie:

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Blake Comeau:

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Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer

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